Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Fields and Pastures New

By Dr. John McCormack

The setting is the early 1960s and John McCormack and his wife and children have moved to rural Alabama for John to start his career as a private practice veterinarian.  This would be a first for the locals too because there had never been a veterinarian in their area before.
Since it was a rural location, a lot of his work would be with farm animals and farmers. Folklore was quite important to these people and folk remedies were the order of the day, with the vet often being called in only when all else had failed. People also relied upon an untrained local man, Carney Sam, who, just like them, subscribed to strange and mostly worthless folk remedies to treat their ailing animals. Like rubbing turpentine on a horse's belly to treat kidney problems. The thinking was that the turpentine would be absorbed through the skin and travel to the kidneys. Total rubbish, but those sorts of treatments were very popular.
But Dr. John is a modern veterinarian and his methods relied upon proven, scientific knowledge. They weren't foolproof, of course, but they were certainly much more effective than the strange and useless cures inflicted upon the poor, suffering critters they were meant to treat.
So rural, backward Alabama got itself a fancy new vet and before long, it was  clear that the community was very lucky to have Dr. John in their midst. And it was clear to Dr. John and his family that they had found themselves a warm and welcoming new home.

This was an interesting read, the memoir of  a young vet establishing himself in his new location, coping with the backwards farmers and the less-trying doctoring of the local dogs, cats and other pets in addition to the work with livestock. The author has real feelings of affection for his neighbors and clients and he and his wife and kids become a greatly appreciated part of the community.

For another review, see https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/john-mccormack/fields-and-pastures-new/.

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